The CB2 cannabinoid agonist AM-1241 prolongs survival in a transgenic mouse model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis when initiated at symptom onset.
Curr Eye Res. 2005 Jul;30(7):583-91. PMID: 17241118
Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, College of Medicine, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, Arkansas 72205, USA.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a neurodegenerative disease characterized by progressive motor neuron loss, paralysis and death within 2-5 years of diagnosis. Currently, no effective pharmacological agents exist for the treatment of this devastating disease. Neuroinflammation may accelerate the progression of ALS. Cannabinoids produce anti-inflammatory actions via cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) and cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2), and delay the progression of neuroinflammatory diseases. Additionally, CB2 receptors, which normally exist primarily in the periphery, are dramatically up-regulated in inflamed neural tissues associated with CNS disorders. In G93A-SOD1 mutant mice, the most well-characterized animal model of ALS, endogenous cannabinoids are elevated in spinal cords of symptomatic mice. Furthermore, treatment with non-selective cannabinoid partial agonists prior to, or upon, symptom appearance minimally delays disease onset and prolongs survival through undefined mechanisms. We demonstrate that mRNA, receptor binding and function of CB2, but not CB1, receptors are dramatically and selectively up-regulated in spinal cords of G93A-SOD1 mice in a temporal pattern paralleling disease progression. More importantly, daily injections of the selective CB2 agonist AM-1241, initiated at symptom onset, increase the survival interval after disease onset by 56%. Therefore, CB2 agonists may slow motor neuron degeneration and preserve motor function, and represent a novel therapeutic modality for treatment of ALS.